16 Days of Activism: EU, UN Guyana commit to ending violence against women, girls

…as The Caribbean Voice launches Project Change Agents

The European Union and the United Nations Guyana have committed to ending violence against women and girls on the occasion of “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”.
A joint statement was issued as November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The agencies highlighted that violence against women was a problem in every country in the world and would escalate in times of crisis. Globally, glaring figures show that one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime and one in five girls become a victim of child sexual abuse.
“We strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful practices, as a blatant violation of human rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated the situation, leading to record high levels of domestic violence. Since the start of COVID-19, 45 per cent of women reported that they or a woman they know had experienced a form of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG),” the statement outlined.
It was mentioned that the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative grew out of this urgent need to address VAWG. VAWG in Guyana is widespread, driven by an intersection of cultural, economic and social factors. Findings from Guyana indicate that 20 per cent of women have experienced non-partner sexual abuse while one in two women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
The Spotlight Initiative in Guyana acts with a community-level focus, designed to address Gender Based Violence and Violence Against Women and Girls by making interventions in critical areas such as laws and policies, institutions, prevention, essential services, quality data, and civil society/women’s movement.
“The hard work with committed partnership of the Government of Guyana led by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security with other partners within civil society, has already realised the achievement of many significant milestones. This has set the stage for strengthening our collective efforts to create an environment for women and girls to live a life free of violence, harmful practices, and intersecting forms of discrimination. We are committed to doing all we can to tackle violence against women,” the missive read.

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism, the Human Services and Social Security Ministry will roll out a series of events beginning on November 25, and culminating on December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.
The series of activities under the theme, “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”, will get underway with a grand launch at Camp and Lamaha Streets. Dubbed “Orange Avenue”, the launching will see members of Cabinet and international representatives taking part in a tree-wrapping exercise, paint for purpose and a mini exhibition.
Other activities include a grand rally, featuring performances from Vanita Willie, Omiaha Hall, and Signature Productions coupled with a pop-up market by women. Another key feature is the Invincible Games which feature a host of sports for persons with disabilities on December 3 and We Lift, lifting women out of domestic violence on December 9 in Linden.
One of the premier events, “DefendHer”, will take place on December 4 at the Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary, where the Ministry has collaborated with MAXIDO adult self-defence training to provide a free and open seminar to females 16 years and older.
Among the other initiatives planned are the engagement on Guyana’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Report, a nationwide consultation on the new Family Violence Act, campaigns to raise awareness on sexual violence, bullying, body shaming, cyber abuse, elderly abuse, and domestic violence and men.

Project Change Agents
Meanwhile, The Caribbean Voice (TCV) will be launching Project Change Agents (PCA) to tackle violence in the Caribbean.
The project aims to involve schools, Government Ministries and other stakeholders in a process that will result in young people being identified and trained to become anti-violence change agents in communities across the English-speaking Caribbean, with special focus on domestic violence but also with skills sets to address sexual abuse, child abuse, and substance abuse.
At the crux of the project is an essay contest for fourth to sixth form students during the 2023-2024 school year. A Fundraising Virtual Concert of Hope is also set to bring performers from across the Caribbean and Diaspora to showcase the variety of Caribbean culture.
This concert has a line-up of 33 performers and four hosts with new items such as Limbo, Masquerade and Amerindian dances, steel pan, Chinese dances and a host of singers and drummers.(G12)